The First Letterbox
Legend has it that letterboxing goes way back to the 1850's, when a gentleman, while walking the moors of Dartmoor, Devon, England, placed his calling card in a jar by the remote Cranmere Pool. He is said to have left a note directing anyone who found his card to leave theirs as well. Word spread of this secret on the moors, and soon other "letterboxes" began showing up in Dartmoor.
The thrill of the hunt. Follow the clues that lead to a hidden letterbox. Inside the letterbox are a unique stamp and a logbook. When you find the letterbox you are searching for from clues usually posted on a website (Letterboxing.org), you stamp the box's logbook with your personal stamp, leaving a record of the discovery. Then you stamp your own personal logbook with the box's stamp, creating a passport of sorts, filled with a collection of unique, mostly hand-carved stamps. You then put the letterbox back in it's original hiding place for another searcher to discover.
As you probably already know, I love hidden treasures. So letterboxing is a hobby that seems tailor-made for me. I am happy to share that the family and I went on our first letterboxing adventure this past weekend.
My brother came to visit with his girls and we had all planned on visiting a local amusement park. Much to my surprise and excitement, I discovered a clue to a letterbox that was hidden at the park. I almost could not contain my enthusiasm when we got there. I wanted to search for that box right away. But I didn't want to take the kids away from the excitement of the amusement park so I bit my tongue and tried to be patient. We all decided to eat our picnic lunch first and then go in to the amusement park. Guess what? We ended up eating our picnic lunch just yards away from where the letterbox was hidden! Yep. Right when we were walking in I noticed a sign that I remembered was part of the clue. Can you say kid in a candy store excited! I almost couldn't eat lunch. As it was, I think I ate faster than I have ever eaten!! It was all I could do not to hurry everyone along. But I still wasn't sure anyone else was going to be okay with a treasure hunt before the amusement park. I waited for just the right moment before asking the question. "Does anyone want to do a treasure hunt before we go in to the park?" (Crossing my fingers.) I waited for their reply. Yes!
It was time to hunt. And hunt we did. We followed the clue, hunted, re-read the clue and hunted some more. We were about ready to give up when I looked down and saw something peculiar. I waved my husband over. It was the letterbox! As word spread throughout our little group you could hear the excitement from every one of us. We hurried away from the secret hiding spot (I've read that's what every good letterboxer should do) and found a quiet shady area to open the box and enjoy the stamps of all those that had been there before us. Such fun and so many unique stamps. As we looked through the stamps, I envisioned the people the stamps represented. Maybe some had found their very first letterbox when they stamped in that logbook. Maybe they were bitten by the letterboxing bug, just like us. We found our first letterbox and it won't be the last.